top of page

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as Student Housing: A Solution for University-Adjacent Living


As the demand for higher education continues to grow, so does the need for affordable and accessible student housing. Many students and their families face the challenge of finding suitable accommodations near colleges and universities. In response, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have emerged as a practical and attractive solution to address this housing issue. In this blog, we will explore how ADUs can serve as student housing near colleges and universities, offering benefits to both students and homeowners.

The Student Housing Challenge

Higher education institutions, especially those in urban or densely populated areas, often struggle to meet the housing demands of their student population. The challenges include:

  1. Limited On-Campus Housing: Many colleges and universities cannot accommodate all students in on-campus housing due to space constraints.

  2. Rising Rental Costs: Rental markets near colleges often come with high costs, making it challenging for students to find affordable housing.

  3. Commuting Difficulties: Commuting long distances to campus can negatively impact students' academic performance and quality of life.

  4. Short-Term Housing Needs: Students may require housing for shorter durations, such as a single academic year, making them less appealing to traditional landlords.

The Role of ADUs in Student Housing

ADUs, also known as granny flats, in-law suites, or secondary units, offer a versatile solution to the student housing challenge. Here's how ADUs can serve as student housing near colleges and universities:

1. Affordable Housing Options

ADUs are often more affordable than traditional apartments or houses, making them an attractive choice for students looking to save on housing costs. This affordability is especially beneficial for those managing tight budgets while pursuing their education.

2. Proximity to Campus

ADUs can be strategically located near college campuses, providing students with the convenience of living close to their classes, libraries, and other campus facilities. This proximity reduces commuting time and expenses.

3. Flexible Lease Terms

Many ADU rentals can accommodate shorter lease terms, such as one academic year. This flexibility aligns with the temporary housing needs of students, who may not want to commit to long-term leases.

4. Independent Living

ADUs are typically self-contained units with private entrances, kitchens, and bathrooms. This independence provides students with their own living space while remaining in proximity to family or other support systems in the primary residence.

5. Enhanced Privacy

ADUs offer a higher degree of privacy compared to shared housing arrangements. This can be especially appealing to students who value their personal space for studying and relaxation.

6. Cost-Sharing Opportunities

Students can share the cost of renting an ADU with roommates, reducing their individual financial burden and making ADUs even more affordable.

7. Multi-Generational Living

ADUs support multi-generational living by allowing students to live near family members, such as grandparents or siblings, while still enjoying their own space. This arrangement fosters strong family bonds.

8. Safe and Regulated Housing

ADUs are typically subject to local housing regulations, ensuring that they meet safety and quality standards. This assurance can give peace of mind to both students and their families.

9. Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

Many newly constructed ADUs incorporate sustainable and energy-efficient design features, contributing to lower utility bills and reduced environmental impact. This aligns with the values of environmentally conscious students.

10. Reduced Commuting Stress

Living near campus eliminates the stress of daily commuting, which can lead to better mental health and academic performance among students.

11. Community Building

ADUs can foster a sense of community among students living near each other. They can form support networks, share resources, and create a vibrant community atmosphere.

12. Supporting Local Economies

Students living in ADUs often contribute to local economies by shopping at nearby businesses, dining in local restaurants, and participating in community events.

13. Adaptable Living Spaces

ADUs can be easily adapted to accommodate students with unique housing requirements, such as those with disabilities. These adaptable living spaces ensure that all students have equal access to housing options.

14. Access to Family Support

Living in an ADU on a family member's property provides students with access to the support and guidance of their relatives, while still maintaining their independence.

15. Encouraging Sustainable Transportation

Students living near campus are more likely to use sustainable transportation methods, such as walking, cycling, or using public transit. This reduces the demand for parking and eases congestion around the campus.

16. Positive Town-Gown Relations

By accommodating more students in ADUs near campus, local governments can reduce the strain on housing markets and promote positive relations between universities and their surrounding communities.

17. Increased Property Values

The addition of ADUs to a property can increase its overall value, benefiting homeowners when they decide to sell their property.

18. Local Economy Boost

The demand for ADUs can stimulate the local economy by creating opportunities for construction, real estate, and property management services.

19. Homeownership Opportunities

Students or their families who own a property with an ADU can generate rental income from the unit, helping offset homeownership costs.

20. Diversity in Rental Housing

By offering ADUs, the local housing market becomes more diverse, catering to a broader range of students with various housing preferences and requirements.

21. Safe and Reliable Housing

ADUs are subject to local regulations, ensuring that they meet safety standards. This ensures that students live in safe, well-maintained housing.

22. Gradual Transition to Independence

ADUs provide a transitional living arrangement for students who are preparing to live on their own but want the security and support of living near family members.

23. Low Maintenance Costs

ADUs are often smaller and require less maintenance than traditional rental properties, which can help homeowners save on upkeep costs.

24. Enhanced Home Security

The presence of students in ADUs can enhance home security, with more people on the property to deter potential intruders.

25. Sustainable Living

Some ADUs are designed with sustainability in mind, incorporating eco-friendly features that appeal to environmentally conscious students.

26. Promoting Community Integration

Students living in ADUs have the opportunity to integrate more fully into the local community, participating in neighborhood events and activities.

27. Reducing Transportation Emissions

Students living near campus are more likely to use eco-friendly modes of transportation, reducing the overall carbon footprint of the university.

28. Alleviating On-Campus Housing Demand

By providing more off-campus housing options, ADUs can help alleviate the strain on on-campus housing facilities, ensuring they are available for students who require them.

29. Supporting Non-Traditional Students

ADUs can cater to non-traditional students, such as older individuals returning to school, who may have unique housing needs.

30. Local Government Revenue

ADU construction can generate revenue for local governments through permit fees and property taxes, contributing to public services.

31. Increased Housing Density

ADUs can promote higher housing density without the need for large-scale developments, helping local governments meet urban planning objectives.

32. Enhancing Community Vibrancy

The presence of students in ADUs can contribute to a vibrant and diverse local community, enriching the cultural and social landscape.

33. Enhancing Neighborhood Safety

The presence of students can enhance neighborhood safety by increasing activity and visibility in the community.

34. Addressing Parking Challenges

Many universities face parking challenges. ADUs near campus can reduce the need for student parking, freeing up space for other uses.

35. Economic Boost to Local Businesses

Students living in ADUs support local businesses by dining out, shopping, and participating in community events, contributing to the local economy.

36. Access to On-Campus Facilities

Students living in close proximity to campus can easily access on-campus facilities such as libraries, gyms, and study areas.

37. Encouraging Sustainable Lifestyles

Students in ADUs near campus are more likely to adopt sustainable lifestyles, including walking or biking to campus.

38. Reduced Congestion

By living near campus, students reduce the number of vehicles on the road, contributing to reduced traffic congestion.

39. Local Labor Opportunities

ADU construction and property management provide job opportunities within the local labor market.

40. Strengthening Town-Gown Relations

Enhancing student housing options near campus can strengthen the relationship between universities and their surrounding communities, fostering collaboration and positive interactions.


As the demand for higher education continues to rise, the need for accessible, affordable, and convenient student housing becomes increasingly important. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) offer a viable solution to this housing challenge, benefiting both students and homeowners. ADUs provide students with proximity to campus, flexibility in lease terms, and cost-effective housing options. Homeowners can benefit from additional rental income, increased property values, and a diverse range of housing options. By promoting the use of ADUs for student housing, colleges and universities can enhance the overall student experience, alleviate the demand for on-campus housing, and strengthen their relationship with the surrounding community. In this way, ADUs have the potential to revolutionize student housing near colleges and universities, providing a win-win solution for all stakeholders.


bottom of page